Saturday, 13 January 2018

Revisiting the Tinkerboard, it works...kinda

There's new imgs of the Tinkerboard available now, and I noted that OpenGLES2 and ES3 have been made available so I set about burning a new img

Sure enough there they were so I set up my test project and .....sooooo much hassle, lots of confusion issues with extension defines needed and installs of X11 and GDB but eventually I did get it up and running, and was a little surprised at how unremarkable it was in terms of speed. Well my demo isn't really optimized for speed so its very hard to be sure.

But sadly the keys don't work, even using the chmod "fix", I'll need to investigate furner runs.. its not comfortable using mostly generic code, so perhaps some specific graphics code is needed to get the best out of it, but hey ho.

It runs :D I'm happy, and that also means at some point I can have a tinker (see what I did there) with the OpenGLES3x options it provides

No clue about the keys though, I hope I don't have to write whole new chunks of keyboard coding.

To add further curiosity to the speed, I installed and run GLMark2-es2 on it and it came out with a woeful score of 48....48??? thats terrible...

Orange Pi One Plus the new H6 stop gap

Here we go, the 1st accessible H6 based board on the market, essentially a small upgrade to the original H3 version of the same board. But an H6 is in theory a lot more bang for buck, with most notably a Mali 720MP2 GPU, thats an OpenGLES3.1 and OpenCL1.1 capable GPU and markedly more powerful than most other chips on the market.

MP2 is always upsetting I would like to see at least MP4 but even so, it gives an extra level of performance that most Pi clones can't compete with.

Sadly though its from Orange Pi, who I respect for pushing out all kinds of nice tech, but who have not demonstrated any desire to supply decent OS's, making the boards mostly useless for games. They chuck the boards out, let users figure it out and by the time they do, they've moved on to a new board and people lose interest.
Its a shame..they could be market leaders if they would only look at the software they supply.

Allwinner did release specs on their GPU's last year though, so there's some hope that the 3rd party market will actually produce some decent drivers for this....some hope...only some.

For now, only an Android img exists, so for me its going to go back in the drawer for a few months, and I'll wait till there's a stable Linux with drivers to play with.
Its available from AliExpress for just under 20euro's (incl delivery)

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Bananna Pi M2 Zero

A very interesting board indeed, its a zero in its layout, but this time a quad core.. Sadly only a Mali 400Mp2 but it should out perform the Raspberry Zero.

As always though the software isn't here yet, Armbian does a fair attempt at getting it up and running but terrible graphic glitching makes it useless for any kind of graphic systems, and it GLMark2-es seemed to think it had OpenGLES3.0 GPU on board, the Mali 400's are strictly ES2.0 which probably explains why it wasn't able to complete the tests,though it did get quite far into them, though very slow

I'll do an update/upgrade cycle on it from time to time to see if there's any improvement, but for now this is a non starter for our gaming purposes.

Also interesting to note it gets bloody hot, I put a heat sink on it, wouldn't want to run without.

edit... ok I found a slightly older verison of the Armbian/ubuntu test build which installed at 720p and it is much more stable, after update and upgrade it is quite stable, no glitching and GLMark2-es2 worked better, showed as Mali400 and ran all the tests, but it reported a really crap score of 52, which is feeble compared to a Raspberry, even the Zero.

Not sure what to make of this, its quad cores make it a great unit, its crap graphics make it pretty useless, but functional barely. I guess as with all maker boards it depends what you want to do with it, if you need a small cpu system, its amazing.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Hmmm bit too early for the UpCore

The UpCore has given me a few issues, not least of which was a reluctance to actually boot. But a request for help on the Up forums eventually yielded a solution, turn it on and off again...basically.

Removal of the battery for 30 seconds or so, and reconnect, saw it finally boot up.

But oh boy its slow. It also had no GL or GLES drivers, or GDB on board, though these were easy enough to install, and getting a buildable config was fairly painless.

However, despite that ease it has been incredibly reluctant to build the test map demo. The build refused to build with a -j4 settings despite being a quad core, hyper threading capable machine. It runs out of virtual memory, no idea what causes that.

But annoyingly, but after trying -j2 and getting a hang I went to -j1 and finally we get a build...a very slllllooooow build

But sadly not to completion, it eventually chokes on the modelmanger.cpp file, which as far as I can see isn't anything out of the ordinary. After sitting waiting for it to move on it gives an unspecified error. Cancelling the build on the PC side does not do anything to cancel on the target side, which becomes crippled as its building.

I used the same config but with a different target address for the Up^2 and it built and ran just fine, though with the known issues with shaders. As the Core is built on the same principles as the Up^2 its all a bit suspect.

As this is so new, I suspect the issues is more to do with a very early OS and certain features of the CPU not being fully activated (like multicore).

I'll put it away for a while and come back to it in a few weeks to see if there is an improvement.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Sorry been busy...but got a new board UPcore

No time recently to try out the new Nano Pi's but I am hoping to this weekend.

I also took delivery of my new 4core Atom 1.84Ghz Up core board. This has to be one of the smallest intel base machines you can possibly have, its only about twice the size of a zero, but is markedly more powerful. Actually in theory I think it can out perform the celeron powered Up^2 I got in August. Which despite some issues I had with shaders put every other board I have to shame.  I can't wait to try it out.

I was hoping its eMMC memory would come ready configured with an OS to let me boot it up and try it but it needs a bit of TLC before it will show me something, as one of the 1st owners of these, there's really not a lot of content yet. Powering it up, gives me nothing at the moment, so I assume its blank and the eMMC needs flashing. But not quite sure what that is all about at the moment.

I will get on it after I've tried out the nanoPi's.
Its a nice little board, though the lack of Network port might be an issue, but hopefully my trusty usb extension with network port will work ok.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

ohhhh this might be good

Friendlyarm are one of my favorite companies, they are pushing a lot of boundaries with their range, they don't always hit it, but at least they try. Their old M3 and T3 boards are amazingly fast, though of course suffer a little from very old GPU's. But that power might make it possible to do more than a few things to ease the load on the GPU.

That said, the GPU is at a disadvantage anyway because of the usual, lack of drivers. So I'm really excited to see 2 new revisions of the M2 and M3, now packed in the smaller Fire3 and Fire2A format.
Allegedly with GPU acceleration.

If thats true then this little board could be one of the fastest machines under $40, graphics won't be a massive change, but it will be fun to use. I've got both the models heading over to me. I'll see how they stack up. I "think" the chip is a Mali 400, it might not even be  an MP2, quite possibly a single...ugg....but 8CPU cores, if they don't burn up and throttle will be wonderful.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Vim2 and OrangePi Prime

Got both of these in the last few days
Can't really say too much about them yet, the Khadas VIM2 is in theory a monster system, with an Octocore CPU and Mali 820 (not sure of the cores). It comes supplied with Android and I have to say its nippy as hell. I will try install Ubuntu, and give a report on its driver availability.
The VIM2 forums though are awful,  very hard to find anything so it might be a while before I get to it.

The OrangePi Prime is a Allwinner H5, with a Mali450. no idea if the previous post notice about GPU drivers will apply to this 64bit system. Of course Debian as supplied had no drivers, and attempts to install them went a bit off, so I'm having a go at installing Ubuntu.
I will say though while using it the Debian install was quite light but noticeably nippy.

Ubuntu installed, it does have GL, but no GLES2 libs so I installed Mesa, however GLMark2-es2 installed and runs it, but as usual it appears to be software emulated as its painfully slow, with a pitiful score of 15, oh well I'll see if the Allwinner gpu fix works on it.